Fujitsu Computer Systems on Tuesday unveiled PrimeQuest, a new line of Itanium 2-based servers aimed at the high end of the market.
At a press conference in San Francisco, officials with Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp.—a subsidiary of Fujitsu Ltd.—were joined on stage by executives from Intel Corp., Red Hat Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. in the launch of the 16-way 440 and 32-way 480.
The systems will be launched later this week in Japan and Europe. That they were unveiled first in the United States is an indication of the importance Fujitsu Ltd., of Tokyo, is placing on the market here.
“This is the first time Fujitsu has used North America” for a major product launch, said Chiaki Ito, executive vice president for Fujitsu Ltd., underscoring the fact that Fujitsu is more than a Japanese vendor.
“Were aiming for a global [market]. In fact, were talking almost one-third of demand coming from Asia, one-third from Europe and one-third from North America.”
The PrimeQuest systems—which will be generally available in June—offer a combination of power and manageability that the company hopes will enable it to compete with the likes of Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM in the high-end space.
They are the culmination of a two-year partnership with Intel focused on developing high-end SMP systems running on Intels 64-bit Itanium architecture.
When the deal was first announced, officials with both companies spoke about rolling out systems with as many as 128 processors.
However, with dual-core computing coming to Itanium processors later this year—with the release of the chip code-named Montecito—and multi-core chips on their way in coming years, the need for such a high number of processors in a single system has lessened, said Richard McCormack, vice president of product and solutions marketing for Fujitsu Computer Systems, in a product prebriefing.
With dual-core chips—two processing cores on a single piece of silicon—a 32-way server essentially can do the work of a 64-processor system.
Fujitsu also sells its Intel-based Primergy line, which includes a mix of smaller systems running on both Itanium and Xeon processors.
Fujitsu is moving into a highly competitive area of the industry. HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., is standardizing its high-end servers on Itanium, with its Integrity line being able to run Windows, Linux and HP-UX.
IBM also is pushing Linux on its Power architecture, with systems running the chips also supporting its Unix operating system, AIX.
At the same time, both Fujitsu and partner Sun Microsystems Inc. play in the high-end Unix space with their SPARC-based systems.
The two also are collaborating on a new line of SPARC systems—the Advanced Product Line—which is set to debut in 2006.
How will PrimeQuest avoid
competing with Fujitsus and Suns other servers?”>
The question, then, is how the new Itanium-based systems will enable Fujitsu to compete against HP and IBM, yet still be complementary to Suns Fire servers, to Fujitsus own PrimePower systems, and to the systems that Sun and Fujitsu are now co-developing.
Ito addressed the question following the briefing, stressing that Fujitsu will continue to have a good relationship with Sun because its an “essential policy” to address the needs of high-end infrastructure customers.
Indeed, McCormack said, the PrimeQuest systems will complement the Sun systems. The APL servers, and Fujitsus current RISC-based PrimePower servers, will continue to evolve for businesses looking to remain on the SPARC systems.
Also, PrimeQuest will open up the possibility of migrating high-end workloads to Linux—a major differentiator between PrimeQuest and competing products, said Toshio Morohoshi, president and CEO of Fujitsu Computer Systems.
“[We can] serve more customers needs” by opening up the high-end market to open systems, he said.
But is Red Hat Linux, for one, ready for the back end, as opposed to the front-end servers with which its typically associated?
Paul Cormier, Red Hat executive vice president, said he flat-out rejects the notion that Red Hat is limited to front-end servers.
“I dont believe its true,” he said. “Weve seen a steady push into the high-end enterprise for the last couple of years. We are running mission-critical applications everywhere.”
Fujitsu, usually among the top five server vendors in the world, joins a number of other OEMs—including NEC Corp., Silicon Graphics Inc. and Unisys Corp.—looking to use Itanium as a way of gaining more market share in the United States.
According to analyst firm Gartner Inc., more than 26,000 Itanium systems were shipped in 2004, with HP accounting for 19,859. Fujitsu sold 233 systems.
PrimeQuest is, of course, a prime opportunity for Intel to up that ante.
At this point, some five to six mainframe vendors have adopted Itanium, said Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel Enterprise Platforms Group Marketing, during the question period following the conference.
Second-tier systems makers like Fujitsu are still important to Itaniums future when it comes to furthering that penetration, however.
“Getting into markets [such as the government sector] we havent been before, Fujitsu will help us to do that,” he said, based on the companys heritage of mainframe innovation.
In particular, Fujitsu is hoping that new mainframe-like management tools will help differentiate PrimeQuest from its competitors.
Among the features integrated into the systems are system mirroring capabilities, integrated services and the ability to move I/O capabilities from one partition to the next within the same system.
“With flexible I/O, you can move I/O capabilities from the [system] partitions that dont need it to partitions that do,” depending on the workload, McCormack said.